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AgTech Investment is Booming

SAN DIEGO, April 17, 2017 — If it seems to you advanced ag technology is invading farm fields across America, you should see Silicon Valley. Investors have poured more than $10 billion into agtech inventions since 2014, according to AgFunder, an online marketplace tracking the sector.

One thing that has become increasingly clear to many investors: farmers are key to the process.

“We’re on the cusp of the next agricultural revolution, and this one is going to be digital as well as biological,” says Louisa Burwood-Taylor, AgFunder’s head of media and research. Just as the first relatively simple cell phones hit the market in the 1990s, touching off a race to innovation and fast adoption just a few years later, the same is happening in agtech, she says. “We’re just at the beginning.”

Of the $3.2 billion invested in 2016, the largest portion, 40%, went toward developing new food-service and e-commerce technologies, such as services that deliver fresh groceries and link consumers to food production, according to AgFunder. FreshDirect is one example. The second-largest chunk of investment, 22%, went toward coming up with new biotechnology tools, such as a new microbial seed coating for cotton. Indigo Agriculture is an example in this category. The third-largest portion of investment, at 11%, went toward farm-management software, according to AgFunder. FarmersEdge is an example in this group.

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Full Harvest raises $2 million to stop farmers from tossing ‘ugly’ fruit and veggies

SAN DIEGO, April 12, 2017 — Full Harvest, a San Francisco-based startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding to reduce food waste at the farm level. Founded by Christine Moseley, formerly the head of business development for cold-pressed juice makers Organic Avenue, Full Harvest connects farmers with food makers who want to buy the fruit and veggies that grocers deem too ugly to sell in stores.

While she was helping grow Organic Avenue’s retail business, Moseley wanted to figure out how to secure lower-priced organic produce. It felt strange that her company was buying picture perfect fruits and vegetables knowing they’d soon be cold-pressed into juices. Organic Avenue also paid a high price for that pretty produce, driving the cost of its healthful juices above $10.

But Moseley’s true a-ha moment came when she was visiting an organic, romaine lettuce farm, she said: “I was standing with beautiful green romaine leaves up to my calves. The farmers were throwing out all these crunchy, green leaves because they were looking for just the perfect heads of lettuce for the stores.”

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Radicle Adds More Seasoned Venture Partners

SAN DIEGO, March 28, 2017 — Radicle, an acceleration fund dedicated to growing early stage agricultural and food technology startups into proven industry leaders, today announced the appointment of Kieran Furlong, Salim Rayes and Michael Totora to its venture partner network. Radicle’s newest venture partners bring expertise in primary technology and business areas to its growing global Ag-focused network.

The new venture partners join an elite group of corporate, academic and industry leaders around the globe working with Radicle to drive the future of agriculture. Radicle aims to solve growers’ greatest productivity, sustainability and quality challenges by investing in technology innovators focused on genomics and plant sciences, seed tech, biologicals, digital Ag, and disruptive or novel farm systems.

“Our venture partner network is an integral part of how we help our Ag and food innovators accelerate bringing their technologies to market. Adding these industry leaders to Radicle’s global platform of Ag experts, researchers and successful entrepreneurs will ensure our portfolio companies stay focused and meet their business milestones,” said Kirk Haney, CEO and managing partner, Radicle. “Our venture partners work closely with the Radicle team to give our entrepreneurs the foundation of strategic advice and mentorship they need to thrive.”

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Why are there no unicorns in AgTech?

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 25, 2017 — Major changes are coming to the ag and food sector. The market demands it. 7.5 billion people need to eat, after all. We are seeing two core areas of innovation in the ag sector:

1. Technology is changing the way growers access and disseminate information. Consider innovations like remote sensing by established player Planet Labs or startup SaraniaSat that give growers virtual “eyes in the sky,” helping them track their crops’ growth and overall health. Genomics and plant sciences, seed tech, biologicals for crop protection and regulation, digital Ag (application of data and predictive analytics to precision Ag) and novel farm systems, are also transforming agricultural practices — from the moment a seed is placed in the ground to the moment a consumer picks up a product from the retail shelf.

2. Consumers and retailers are demanding more transparency about where their food comes from, how it is produced, how healthy it is, and how its production impacts the environment. Growers and manufacturers must work to meet these transparency demands, all while doing more with less.

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